Ep #192: The Over-Use of “Referrals” in Marketing

Are you falling for this strategy? Nobody wants to admit that they are but it’s time to get honest. 

In this episode, I want to address the use of “referrals” in people’s marketing to get your attention in order to follow their strategies or do business with them. Oftentimes it will be a company using that word as clickbait to get you to look at their business simply because using the word “referrals” has a lot of power.

In my opinion, there is a huge overuse of the word “referrals.” If you chase all of these strategies that promise you referrals, you are probably not going to see the success you’re looking for. 

Share your thoughts on this episode or ask any questions you have in our Referrals Without Asking Facebook group!

Looking for Referral & Client Experience Resources:

Take the Referral Ninja Quiz to test your skills and abilities at generating referrals. (FREE)

Buy my book – Generating Business Referrals Without Asking – and learn how to generate referrals through my 5 steps. (LESS THAN $16)

Consider joining Building a Referable Business™ – a unique way to learn all of my referral strategies and tactics with ongoing weekly access to me to answer your questions and help hold you accountable!  Email me for more details.

Coming Up:

Next episode is #193 and we’re diving into a conundrum of sharing versus asking.

Download The Full Episode Transcript

Read the Transcript Below:

Stacey Brown Randall: The big question is: are you falling for it? I know no one wants to admit that they are, but are you falling for this strategy?

You are not just another hustling salesperson. You are the expert, the
resource, the valuable partner for your clients, and how you grow your
business should reflect how your clients see you.

Welcome to the Roadmap to Grow Your Business podcast. We generate
referrals without asking, build positive client experiences, and help
you take control of your business.

Here’s your charmingly sarcastic host, Stacey Brown Randall.

Stacey Brown Randall:          Hey there, and welcome to episode 192 of the Roadmap To Grow Your Business podcast. I’m your host, Stacey Brown Randall. All right. I want to do a quick shout out because this one is so fun to share and it shows the power of patience and hard work. So, we have an interior designer in Rhode Island that has been a client of mine and participated in the Growth By Referrals program amongst other things at the VIP level for a couple of years and I’ve had the privilege of working with her for a couple of years. And she was working on a strategy to turn more people into referral sources, so to get new people to start referring her. And it was a strategy that you have to work and it doesn’t just work in like 30 days or even 90 days, it is a strategy you have to work.

                           Now, definitely, people start having success in the first couple of months with it, but to really cultivate the number of referral sources many people need when they start this strategy, it takes time. And so, this fabulous interior designer, she decided to do the work. And so, as she went through Referring Machines, which is one of our strategies where we teach you how to turn clients and contacts into new referral sources, so to get referrals for the first time from your new people who are referring you, right, so it’s called Referring Machines. And so, she was working the Referring Machines strategy and she was turning potential folks into referral sources. And on her list was an architect that she wanted to cultivate into a new referral source.

                           And she emailed me, which was such a fun email to receive, I love getting emails like this, and she said, “Stacey, we just got our largest,” in all caps, “We just got our largest referral to date from an architect.” And then she made a note, “one of the ones from my list.” And this list she started putting together throughout 2019 and 2020, and then got really serious about effectively cultivating it from the back half of 2020 throughout 2021. So now here we are in January of 2022. I want you to pay attention to the timeline, okay? So this was someone she identified back in 2020 and started cultivating this architect on her list to the back half of 2020 and throughout 2021. And so now, here we are almost 18 months later when she emailed me this in January. She said, “We got our largest referral to date from an architect, one of the ones for my list last year, client just signed overall contract value $620,000.”

                           You heard it $620,000. That’s six, two, zero with a comma and three more zeros after it. That’s right, that’s more than a half a million dollar referral, folks. I mean, amazing. And then she says, “Referrals are where it’s at.” And then, of course, she talked about making sure her 2022 strategy was in place, in prime condition and ready to go. So I just want you guys to know, for those of you that are really working your referral strategy, so if you’re in building a referral business with me or if you’re in one of my other signature programs like Growth By Referrals or Referring Machines, if you’re in any of those programs or some of the other ones, and you’re work in the process and you feel like you’re making traction but you’re not getting those huge results you want, it’s because this is a strategy that takes patience.

                           And it’s a little bit about what our episode is about today as well. And so, I just wanted to start with this shout out because I think it bears repeating for folks who want fast results, the get quick rich schemes. That’s not what referrals are all about. This is somebody who’s cultivating a relationship for 18 months and then it brought her in over half a million dollars. But she was consistent, and she had faith, and she believed in the process, the process fit her personality and her brand, and she followed it, and she did what she was supposed to do, she did the work consistently and then she was rewarded. Guys, this is how it works. And so, for those of you who have or in one of my programs and you’re work in the process and you’re like, “Okay, it’s starting to work, but when am I going to get the really big ones?”

                           It may take 18 months. It may take less, right? You guys hear success stories all the time from me about people who double, or triple, or quadruple their referrals in one year. But that is not necessarily a guarantee depending on where you’re starting from, how long you’ve been in business, and then of course, who you have on your list to refer you and who you have on your list that you want to refer you, and then starting that process and strategy of cultivating those relationships. So, I just wanted to give a shout out and I just want you to know, if you are following in the same shoes as she is, just know you got to be consistent. Okay? And if you’re not doing anything to cultivate referrals but you’re listening to this podcast every week, can you start today?

                           That doesn’t mean you’ve got to join one of my programs, maybe you’re not ready for that, that’s okay. But can you do something today to start this process of starting to pay attention and taking control of your referrals? Because I know you’re not going to get the results in the next 30 days, so I need you to start now so that this can impact your next six months or your next year and definitely your next two, three, four, five plus years as well. Okay. Let’s dive into today’s episode. It was one headline in a long series of headlines like this that I see, but it was one headline in a long series that I’ve seen over the years that prompted this particular episode. That’s right, this episode, episode 192.

                           And I wanted to address the use of the word referrals, and I’m putting that in air quotes that you can’t see, but I wanted to address the use of referrals in people’s marketing to get your attention to follow their strategies or do business with them. So let me set this up so you guys understand exactly what I’m talking about, right? This isn’t people using referrals to get referrals from themselves. Now, these are other companies that are using the word referrals in their marketing to get your attention so that you will consider becoming a client of theirs and working with them or using their strategies. And in this case, a lot of times, it starts out by that word referrals in the headline, right, a little bit.

                           Sometimes I see it used as click bait and it drives me crazy. But using the word referrals in their headlines or in their articles to get your attention to draw you into the article, because that word has so much power in it, so much power, and so people use it and they’re not always, in my personal opinion, that’s actually not what they mean. And so, I wanted to break this down because I think there is a huge overuse of the word referrals in other people’s marketing to get your attention to decide to do business with them and start following their strategies. The headline that kind of was the one that broke the camel’s back was How To Win Referrals and Leads On Instagram.

                           And folks, you guys know I live in a referral space, I’m seeing this stuff all day long, I’m paying attention to what’s happening out there and a lot of the misinformation and misconstrued information that is out there when it comes to referrals, and as you can imagine, it just burns me up. So, I’m going to work really hard not to make this a super long soapbox episode, but I just want to dig in on this for just a couple of minutes and then we’ll let you get on with your day. Okay. There are other ones that I see in addition to this one headline, How To Win Referrals and Leads On Instagram. There’s other ones I see like Content Marketing to Grow Your Referrals, right?

                           I mean, I see them all the time about people talking about doing a strategy that will then get you referrals, whether that is using social media like Instagram to get you referrals or using content marketing to get you referrals. And here’s the thing, on the surface, they’re not lying. Because the truth is, if you do have strong content marketing, and if you do have a strong social media presence, and if you do show up at events and things like that, there is the opportunity that someone will see it or see you and think in that moment, “Oh yeah, I got a referral for you.” Do you know how often that actually happens? Very, very little.

                           And so, if you go chasing all of these strategies that ultimately are promising you that if you do this thing on social media, or if you write these 13 articles, or if you put out a podcast you’re automatically going to get all these referrals, that’s not true. That’s not how it works. Will you get some? Yes, absolutely. But most of these strategies are actually lead generation strategies of cold and warm prospects who will see your social media, who will see your content marketing, who may come to an event, right, and then decide to do business with you. What typically doesn’t happen in those moments is people referring you consistently. So, can you put out a social media post and it follow a strategy? Right?

                           Can you do something on Instagram, or Facebook, or LinkedIn and it prompts someone who sees it in the moment and then decides to refer you? Yes, of course. That can happen though with anything. You could be walking down the street and a neighbor could see you and be like, “Oh my gosh, I forgot to tell you.” Right? That can happen anywhere. But that’s not a strategy, folks. Can that be, I don’t know, I guess like a supporting strategy for referrals? Possibly, but I see it more as just smart marketing, right? If you’re on social media, if you’re doing content marketing, if you have a podcast, if you’ve written a book, if you are out there at networking events, if you’re writing articles, that’s all good stuff, that’s all part of your prospecting and your marketing strategy, and that’s all great.

                           But to then make the claim that doing that consistently will be what you need to do to generate referrals is just false if you’re thinking about generating referrals consistently. And that’s what these articles never address. And I think that’s what really just burns me up, right? That’s what these articles never address. And what they don’t address is the idea at the end of the day, at the end of the day, yes, you can get some, sporadic, random. It may happen, it may not, but it may happen. But they’re addressing it and they’re using it from the reality that they’re trying to tell you that you can get them consistently in this way. And that’s just not how referrals work, not when you dig into the brain science, and the research, and the psychology behind how a referral consistently is ultimately triggered.

                           Which is why what I teach with our existing referral source strategy, our potential referral source strategy, our referable client experience, that’s why what I teach, it’s strategies for you to follow consistently and it’s always targeted on the people who actually have the potential to refer you. But it comes at it from a place of actually honoring that relationship, investing in that relationship, and then doing the right things and saying the right things as well. But that’s a true strategy for how you generate referrals. Just going out there and doing a bunch of TikTok videos or doing a bunch of Instagram isn’t going to generate you referrals.

                           If you’re consistent in any platform or any marketing strategy, like a podcast, or content marketing, or posting on LinkedIn, whatever it is, then obviously, consistently over time, we’ll have people see it, they’ll get to know you, they’ll get to trust you, and maybe one day they’ll ultimately be able to refer you or maybe become a client themselves. But most of those things are triggered to generate you leads, prospects, potential clients, and that’s what those strategies are there for, not necessarily somebody that’s never heard of you and then actually ultimately referring you. I’m not saying it can’t happen, of course it can. It’s just random, it’s sporadic.

                           And to think that you could actually have an Instagram strategy or a content marketing strategy that’s going to fill up your prospect funnel of all the referrals you could possibly need in a year, well, that’s just dangerous to believe. And that’s what I wanted to address in this episode. Again, I didn’t want to get into some massive soapbox about this, I just wanted to call your attention to the fact that when you are searching on Google or you’re seeing ads pop up, or you’re seeing articles pop up on social media or in the news, or any other online digital platforms that you go to get your news from or you go to get business advice from, I just want you to pay attention when you see a headline that has about how to get referrals but then using a social media, or content marketing, or other type of marketing strategy.

                           That’s not that they’re wrong. It’s just that, will that strategy actually produce consistent results or are they using referrals to hook you, click bait you into actually reading the article, and then from that point going to actually give you a great strategy? I’m not saying these strategies are wrong, but these strategies are really going to be there to help build your brand reputation and to bring you leads. Two very good things, we’re good with these, we like these, two very good things. But at the end of the day, they’re not the things that are going to bring you referrals. And I just want you to be an informed consumer so you can separate those things out in your mind.

                           Now, I’m sure there are people who believe this, who would have a complete opposite opinion, and they are free to have that, just like I’m free to have mine. But I do know what I see consistently and I’ve been doing this over a decade of when I see consistent results and I know some people who have used these strategies and then have come back to told me how they haven’t worked for them. And I’ve seen it for my own clients being like, “Well, I joined this networking group and I was there, this lead group, every single week. And when I look at who’s referring me, it’s not those people, it’s all these other people.” I’m like, “Right.” It just doesn’t mean it can’t work, it just means sometimes, you got to pay attention to what is working.

                           And I just don’t want you to be consumed into something that may waste your time and I just want you to be an informed consumer. Okay, that’s it, I’m done. No more soapbox, I promise. I would love though to know your thoughts on this. Do you agree with me? Do you disagree? Do you think I’ve gone to like the loony bin or do you think, “Yep, Stacey’s speaking the truth, sistah.” Whatever it is, I want to hear from you. Please share your thoughts on this episode in our Referrals Without Asking Facebook group. To get there, you could go to the show notes page for this episode, staceybrownrandall.com/192.

                           That’s 192 and Stacey has an E. Or you can go direct to our Facebook community by going to staceybrownrandall.com/community. It’ll redirect you right into our Referrals Without Asking Facebook group. All right. Coming up next week my friends, it’s episode 193, and we’re going to be talking about a conundrum, a conundrum when it comes to the sharing aspect of what you do versus the asking for referrals aspect. Yep, we’re going to dive into this, it’s going to be good. But until then my friends, because that is next week’s episode, until then my friends, you know what to do, take control and grow your business. Bye for now.

Thanks for listening to the Roadmap to Grow Your Business podcast. To
access all resources and links mentioned in today’s show, and to
connect with Stacey, head over to www.staceybrownrandall.com.


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